The human essence is modified by technology every day. We can’t see it or feel it. It just happens every time we interact with computers, cellphones, tablets and other devices.
Advances in the digital era lead us to new brain-machine interfaces that could modify our mental abilities, for better and for worse.
We know that human brains have been changing, adapting and developing for centuries in response to external stimuli. And today, they continue to do so; but at what cost?
The question is, how and to what extent could our minds become molded if we submit them to technology from the moment we are born?
Video games in 4D, virtual reality, internet or social networks are the bread and butter of most of us. Especially for young people, digital natives, who have not known the world without technological connections.
But more than impacting our brain, new technologies are altering our human identity.
There are many recent investigations that warn about the dangers of the excessive use of technology or how it directly affects learning and sleep.
Should we adapt and reeducate our brain to avoid submitting to the harmful consequences?
What is clear is that perhaps we should rethink the use and power that we grant to all the technological channels that we have at our disposal.
Research carried out among more than 30 medical-scientific institutions, proved how malleable our brain can be.
The report reviewed the role of the plasticity of this organ and the generation of new proteins related to flexibility when drastic neuronal changes occur.
It was proven that its great malleability allows it to adapt continuously to the constant changes in the environment.
For example, people with acquired deafness process touch and vision differently: the brain adapts to change and uses part of its auditory cortex to process the sense of touch.
Mental health and technological advances
A brain-computer interface is a device that allows establishing communication between our mind and the external world without the help of peripheral nerves or motor activity: it uses the electrical activity of the brain.
This is one of the greatest examples of technological evolution; an advance that, although still in the process of investigation, will have many possibilities of application.
“This technology allows to record and process brain waves in real time and translate them into action in the outside world,” according to Facundo Manes, author of the book The Brain of the Future.
“It interprets and transfers the neuronal electrical activity to a device or prosthesis that is stimulated to generate motor commands, in this way, the brain-computer interfaces have the potential to return movement to people who have suffered paralysis”.
Most brain-machine interfaces have therapeutic approaches. However, it may be used in the future with the aim of enhancing brain function in healthy people.
“In theory, it is possible to enhance sensory or cognitive functions through brain implants or external devices. This has led to imagining the opportunity to equip humans with previously unthinkable skills, such as unlimited memory, perceive more colors and have night vision; all of which makes us enter a posthuman era of superintelligence.”
All this is possible thanks to advances in nanotechnology, biotechnology, neuroscience and ICT. “Therefore, it is said that this brain-machine interface is a possible gateway to a revolution in which the human body is fused with artificial devices,” he adds.
How does technology influence our emotions?
Our affective, healthy and quality relationships help us to live more, better and to be happier. Thanks to science today we know the importance of positive and lasting bonds in our wellbeing since it has been shown that they help protect the brain and affect the psychological, physiological and behavioral functions.
Recent research showed that when we have our loved ones are close to us, there is less activity in neural areas associated with the processing of danger and we are less likely to activate bodily responses to stress.
When the brain gets a total feeling of motivation that makes a person get involved to the fullest in the task he is doing, it is said to be flowing.
“Empathizing with others, generates knowledge and learning and enjoying the moment when generating ideas in a work environment are some of the continuous reward cycles of the brain that drive you to the next cycle,” says Calbet.
Thus, when the brain flows it is easier for it to successfully pass to the next task, without blockages that prevent it from advancing in the achievement of the objectives that a person has set.